Jeff Bezos’ Annual Letter

A must read. Once you are done, make a wall calender of the following.

“So, have you settled only for decision quality, or are you mindful of decision velocity too? Are the world’s trends tailwinds for you? Are you falling prey to proxies, or do they serve you? And most important of all, are you delighting customers? We can have the scope and capabilities of a large company and the spirit and heart of a small one. But we have to choose it.”

P.S. The letter is not in readable format. Saving it to Instapaper did the trick for me.


“I basically broke the rules. I was told point-blank that I couldn’t change the canvas or do anything to it. And I got fed up with doing what I thought would please the head of communications. I got tired of playing by the rules. And I thought, The only time I’ve ever made a difference, and the only time anything ever changes, is really when you’re respectful and disrespectful at the same time.”—Marc Jacobs


Writing in Design

Couldn’t agree more with this.

“Long before I make my way to Photoshop or Sketch, my process begins with an articulation of the problem in written form. I have to assign meaning to the problem and understand its implications before I can begin to imagine a solution. Design is a language that is greater than the sum of its visual parts.

Design begins with words.”


Steve Jobs on Idea vs Product

“And that disease—I’ve seen other people get it too—it’s the disease of thinking that really great idea is 90% of the work.

And that if you just tell all these other people, you know, “Here’s this great idea,” then of course they can go off and make it happen.

And the problem with that is, is that there is just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product.

And as you evolve that great idea, it changes and grows.

It never comes out like it starts, because you learn a lot more as you get into the subtleties of it and you also find there is tremendous trade-offs that you have to make.”



Artificial “narrow” Intelligence

Ben Thompson while writing on AI:

“In fact, we already have a better word for this kind of innovation: technology. Technology, to use Merriam-Webster’s definition, is “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area.” The story of technology is the story of humanity: the ability to control fire, the wheel, clubs for fighting — all are technology. All transformed the human race, thanks to our ability to learn and transmit knowledge; once one human could control fire, it was only a matter of time until all humans could.”

That last line stuck with me. Effectively all we do is build on the shoulders of humans before us. Our ability to communicate and share, that’s how we survived in the first place, as argued by Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens.

From Chris Dixon’s masterpiece last week (emphasize mine):

“Another way to characterize Shannon’s achievement is that he was first to distinguish between the logical and the physical layer of computers. (This distinction has become so fundamental to computer science that it might seem surprising to modern readers how insightful it was at the time—a reminder of the adage that “the philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next.”)”


Musk’s crusade to stop AI Apocalypse

From VF Hive:

“Some in Silicon Valley argue that Musk is interested less in saving the world than in buffing his brand, and that he is exploiting a deeply rooted conflict: the one between man and machine, and our fear that the creation will turn against us. They gripe that his epic good-versus-evil story line is about luring talent at discount rates and incubating his own A.I. software for cars and rockets. It’s certainly true that the Bay Area has always had a healthy respect for making a buck. As Sam Spade said in The Maltese Falcon, “Most things in San Francisco can be bought, or taken.”

I don’t think that’s what he is up to. But if he is, he has been super successful so far. I will definitely prefer a world made better by Elon Musk.


The Inner Game of Tennis

I have started avoiding self-help books recently. I felt like I was not getting anything from them. I was just looking for dopamine hit. So I don’t know why exactly I picked this one up—maybe because of tennis. But I am glad I did.

I won’t call this a self-help book anyway. It’s more about managing your brain. The analogy used in the book is so helpful that I have started to caught my procrastination behaviours more often now. It’s also an old book that’s very short which makes it more compelling.

P.S. I originally wanted to write a long form review of the book. But thought otherwise because I don’t want to give anything away. Bear with tennis analogy and this is worth every bit of your time.


Ben Thompson on Apple’s pricing strategy

From Stratechery (Paywall):

“It turns out there are two distinct strategies — the iPhone strategy and the iPod strategy

The most important difference between the iPhone and iPod pricing strategies is perhaps the most counterintuitive: how essential is the product in question? That is because any product has to answer two questions:

  1. Do I need a product from this category?
  2. Which specific product do I want?

No one needs an iPad, Watch, or Airpods (which, as Neil Cybart documented last week, are very low-priced relatively speaking). That means that price doesn’t just influence which product you buy within the tablet, health and fitness tracker/smartwatch, or headphone categories, but whether you buy into the category at all.

I strongly suspect the degree of price elasticity for a product is inversely correlated to the necessity of said product (that is the less you need a product the more sensitive you are to price).”

Too good.